Thursday, December 10, 2009

When the Process Doesn't Process

It's all fun and games -- until it isn't.

When I'm in the thick of things with writing - when I first discovered I could work on multiple short stories, moving from one to the other, picking up where I left off, going to the next when one stalled, and that they got finished and were good stories (at least I think so) - or when I first started working in the library south of town because Rick was off work and I do not have the discipline to write fiction when he's home - when I'm writing, writing, writing, I can't imagine it being otherwise. Of course every day I'll put words on paper (or pixels on a screen, or whatever it is). Of course some days will be more productive or more creative or just more fun than others. Of course I'll do it anyway, even when it's not as much fun.

And I really believe this at the time. Because I am gullible and can lie to myself. Or because when it's like that it's too wonderful to believe it will go away. Or because I got there by dragging myself to the writing until it became that much fun and I think I can do it again, conveniently forgetting the part I'm about to repeat - the not fun, drag-yourself-to-the-writing part.

Then there are times like I went through recently - no short story sparks or gets off the floor (the one on the space station I particularly loathe.) I can work on the novel, as long as I convince myself to, and when I reread it in six months I (probably) won't remember that I was having a bad day. The voice will sound the same. The plot points will track. Or I will have rewritten it so they do, probably not realizing it was because I wrote that section on a "Come on, you have time, so write" day.

And then there are times like these. Depression running very high. Panic close behind. No, that's not right, panic is leading. Rick is working nights, with a very long commute that takes about 105 minutes. There's nowhere for him to stay up there in Nowhere Very Much, California. Some of these nights -- which last a good 15 hours, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 or later a.m. (math not being my best subject, I think that's actually 14 hours) -- some of these nights I write. Not enthralled. Not in the zone. But I write.

Some nights? I vacuum the entire house and make stock out of the leftover turkey carcass and very old celery and the last of the farmer's market onions and potatoes.

When I would rather vacuum than write, things are not good in the Jennifer writing world or in Jennifer's head.

What causes your process to break down? And what do you do to beat it?

Friday, December 4, 2009


The picture is of Thud, one of the feral kitties born under our porch summer 2009.
Kaleidoscope Window went out the door (so to speak) and off to where hopefully there are readers who will like it. If it comes back, we have plans, it and I, for further work. If it sells, hurrah! I was convinced it's there, and I'm not convinced my plans for it might not take it past there and back again. Too much frillery around the edges.

Now to do the same with the other books I wrote and stored in the closet, and to go on with the current in progress novel, and to finish a handful of short stories that are in their teenage, argumentative stages. One I was working on, a little horror story, I thought, stalled out for the second time last night at something like 1500 words. Today when Rick was off buying more Christmas lights I wrote two entire sentences before finding out what its problem is: It's not a little horror story. There's meat that will go on its bones and a real character in it. Well, damn! I'm pleased, and happy there's more to it, I just had kind of expected it would be ending sooner.

Meanwhile, while placing an ad on Craigslist about my ghostwriting and nonfiction skills, which causes only really crazy people to contact me so far - no, seriously, one tried to sell me business cards, one led me to an infected site (I didn't go in and avoided problems) and another sent me email saying he wanted to tell me his story... and signed with two names, both sexual. Ah! This is helpful. But while looking to asnwer someone else's ad, I discovered a treadmill, a Precor, exactly what I want, and in my price rage (not completely: lately my price range is about $1.99, but still) and only 30 miles from the Nowhere we currently live (deeper into the Nowhere, actually.) So we went and looked at it and tomorrow I shall dig change out of sofa cushions and see if I can get anything for selling a really fat cat and Sunday we will go pick it up. Yay!